It is with a mixture of sadness and deepest gratitude that we, the Staff, Company Members, and Board of Directors announce that Oracle will cease operations by the end of December 2016 after 11 years of making theatre in Chicago – 6 of which were spent pursuing our mission of Public Access Theatre™.
For so many people and communities, 2016 has been a profoundly difficult year. For many of us personally, Oracle and the mission of Public Access Theatre have represented an anchor point in uncertain times. It is humbling and heartwarming to reflect on the thousands of people who contributed to Oracle as we grew and fulfilled our mission. The past six years of Public Access Theatre have been an invigorating period of growth. Our mission of making art accessible to everyone evolved over time. That mission informed our seasons, our programming, and changes to our organizational structure. We have been extraordinarily fortunate to collaborate with so many Chicago artists and leaders who have challenged and pushed our ideas of what it means to be accessible. Though we only scratched the surface, we were able to expand the meaning of accessibility beyond affordability, to begin addressing issues around equity and social change. We hope others in the Chicago theatre community will continue the effort to make quality theatre truly accessible to all.
The last year and a half has also brought significant internal changes. Chief among these was the need to find a new home after losing our longtime space of 11 years at 3809 N. Broadway due to condominium development. We took a calculated risk to move our operation to a larger space in Northcenter. Brad Jayhan-Little (Executive Director) and Ben Fuchsen (Executive Producer) have been leading the company for most of its history; the summer brought large personal life changes for both of them. The confluence of these changes made them realize that it is time for each of them to move on to other endeavors. For these reasons, the Board of Directors decided to dissolve Oracle and grant its assets to other important nonprofit institutions dedicated to making art accessible to all.
We have been fortunate to work with passionate and tirelessly dedicated staff members, company members, and board members, as well as some of Chicago’s most amazing artists, collaborators, and volunteers. We can’t thank all of these 600+ individuals enough for their enormous efforts and incredible talents. You were the group that made us think differently and challenge the norm. You are the inspiration for Public Access Theatre.
We have been championed by the League of Chicago Theatres; Broadway In Chicago (2014 Emerging Theatre Award); the Joseph Jefferson Committee (24 Non-Equity nominations, and 9 awards); the Chicago Park District, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE); the Driehaus Foundation; the Alphawood Foundation; the Chicago Community Trust; the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; the Reva and David Logan Foundation; the MacArthur Foundation; the Law Offices of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard; The Saints; and the Illinois Theatre Association (2014 Excellence in Professional Theatre Award). Your continued support and philanthropy made a bold statement about the importance of our mission.
To our patrons: theatre is nothing without you. You filled our seats to 97.5% capacity, and your donations and word-of-mouth publicity helped us spread Public Access Theatre further than we thought possible.
Finally, a heartfelt Thank You to all the members of The Forty 4, the sponsors who championed our growth. It is a direct result of your support that we have had the great honor of providing free theatre to more than 47,000 people.
Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene is integral to our cultural vitality. Oracle is grateful to have contributed its art to the community and to have worked at fulfilling a mission that made a positive difference in the lives of so many people. Artists and staff from Oracle will continue their work with the mission of Public Access Theatre in their hearts.